Magazine article E Magazine

Crude Awakening in Ecuador

Magazine article E Magazine

Crude Awakening in Ecuador

Article excerpt

Delfin Payaguajo of the Sekoya tribe in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador says his family's health and traditional way of life have been ruined by Texaco. The U.S. oil giant has pumped a billion barrels of crude oil out of the Ecuadoran rainforest--one of the world's most bilogically diverse--and left behind an ecological horror show.

Payaguajo and others are suing Texaco for $1.5 billion in damages, and to force the oil giant to clean up the pollution. From the early 1970s to 1990, Texaco pumped 200,000 barrels of oil a day from over 400 drilling sites in teh rainforest. In the process, say activists, Texaco showed little concern for the environment or the health of the people who live there. Payaguajo charges that Texaco contaminated the water supply with crude oil. The local river, the Aguarico, was so poisoned by crude oil that no one can fish there now, and villagers must drink and bathe with rainwater.

Because of their actions, Texaco is the target of an international consumer boycott headed by the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network. Boycott organizer, Glen Switkes, hopes consumers will cut up their credit cards and send them to Texaco's corporate headquarters in White Plains, New York. Rainforest activists are also planning protests at Texaco service stations.

The outside world first learned about Texaco's actions in Ecuador with the 1990 publication of Amazon Crude, by Judith Kimerling. The book has been praised as the Silent Spring of Ecuador. …

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